LeBron James walked back comments he made last week that he wouldn’t play if fans weren’t allowed to come to games in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, telling reporters on Tuesday that he intends to respect the NBA’s decision.
The Los Angeles Lakers star said he was unaware at the time he made the remarks that the league was actually discussing the real possibility of playing in empty arenas because of the ongoing COVID-19 threat, according to ESPN.
“Well, it’s funny because when I was asked the question of would you play without no fans, I had no idea that there was actually a conversation going behind closed doors about the particular virus,” he said.
James later added he would be “disappointed” if that was the decision the league went with but that it would be the “best” option, considering the health concerns.
“Obviously, I would be very disappointed not having the fans, because that is what I play for — I play for my family, I play for my fans.”
He added: “If they feel like it’s best for the safety of the players, the safety of the franchise, the safety of the league to mandate that, then we all listen to it.”
On Friday, James told reporters a different story, saying he would sit out if the building was empty.
“If I show up to the arena and there ain’t no fans there, I ain’t playing,” he said, according to the Washington Post.
On Monday, the NBA along with the NHL, MLB and MLS announced that they would be closing locker rooms and clubhouses to the press in order to limit COVID-19’s exposure.